I'm good(ish) at a lot of things.

“Black Buck” by Mateo Askaripour

I’m not gonna lie. The reason I originally grabbed this book was that I was drawn in by the bright, vibrant colors. I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but dude, we all know that covers are what draws us in when we’re skimming the book shelves at Target looking for our next book victim to devour! The second thing that drew in about this book was once again the cover, but this time it was the actual covert art, which happened to be a cup of coffee, and boy, do I love my coffee!

The summary inside the book basically said that Darren, the main character who later goes by Buck, lives in a not-so-great part of town with his mom and is content to work at Starbucks because it’s a pretty easy job, and it allows him to spend plenty of time with his mom and girlfriend. His mom knows that he has so much more potential and always pushes him to be his best self, and finally, one of the big wigs that visits his Starbucks every day gives him a chance to work for him at his up and coming company. He reluctantly gives them a chance and is put the through some pretty serious racial hazing seeing as he’s the only person of color in the office, but Buck is strong and pulls through becoming one of the most successful salesman in the company.

Buck lets all of the money and glory go to his head, however, and ends up screwing up his home life. He practically goes off the deep end but is saved when he finds meaning in training and creating a new sales group club called Happy Campers where he teaches his tricks of the trade to people of color to give them a chance in the predominately white sales world.

This book made me excited for the opportunities Buck was given, mad as hell at the super racist character Clyde, disappointed in Buck when he loses himself, and then hopeful again for him as he finds himself by helping others succeed. I don’t quite know what I was expecting when I decided to purchase this book from Target, but I am pleasantly surprised by the deep emotions that this book stirred up as well as some of the excellent life lessons portrayed throughout the novel.

“Black Buck” also gave me flashbacks about my one day experience as a saleswoman. When I quit my job as an Animal Control Officer, I was pretty desperate to find any job, and I had zero sales experience, but I thought “what the hey”, and decided to give it a shot! I spent $130 odd dollars on nice new clothes only to last one whole day advertising a local cable company at a nearby HEB. I had people saying “NO” before I could even speak, people walked all around the dang store just to avoid going past us, and my feet were killing me from standing on them all day. Not the greatest first day I’ve ever had at a new job.

Fortunately, the guy I was training with was super nice and fun to talk to. He was very passionate about the company’s mission, which was basically, make bank now so you can retire and live nice early on. I commended him for believing so whole-heartedly in his work, but I personally couldn’t bring myself to work 12+ hours a day to maybe make $300-500 in sales a week, and that was if anyone was wanting to buy a new cable package that particular week. I didn’t mind the verbal rejection or the nasty looks we got, but I knew I personally needed a steadier paycheck. And so, at the end of the day, I thanked him for the experience and the pointers, and we parted ways forever. And then I was hired as the manager at my current job two days later.

In “Black Buck”, there are sales tips and techniques scattered throughout the book that mostly pertain to the sales field of work, but these are also relatable to your everyday life. Here are some of my favorite tips that I found in the book:

No matter how much it hurts, never let short-term frustration disrupt long-term gain. Sales is a marathon, not a sprint. – Black Buck, Chapter 9

People either bring you up or down, and if it’s down, they gotta bounce. No matter how hard it is. But don’ sweat it. You’ll find the right guy. – Black Buck, Chapter 28

Life, like sales, comes with an endless amount of opportunities to do the wrong thing to win. But understand that whether you take those opportunities or not, consequences still follow. And they won’t always be in your favor. – Black Buck, Chapter 30

If I took anything away from this novel, it would probably be to take advantage of opportunities that are given to you, but don’t lose yourself in the process. Do good when you can and where you can, and the world will be a better place for it.

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